A retreat for the clergy of the Eparchy of Melbourne was held at Pallotti College, Millgrove

During this week, from December 5 to 9, Pallotti College, which is located in the quiet Australian town of Millgrove, hosted a retreat for the clergy of the  Eparchy of Melbourne. According to the fathers, such retreats are always very welcome for them, because it is a great opportunity, first of all, for spiritual renewal and for a physical meeting after a long separation, because the parishes of the Eparchy of Melbourne are located far from each other and the opportunity for joint fraternal meetings is not often.

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The retreat began with the Vespers. The fathers and bishops prayed together that the Holy Spirit would guide them in this blessed time. Therefore, Bishop Mykola Bychok, Eparch of Melbourne, introduced to everyone present the retreatant – Bishop Richard Umbers, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, who conducted retreats not only in a theoretical way, but also in a practical way, which enabled the fathers to learn and understand the proposed topics more deeply.

According to the clergy of the Eparchy of Melbourne, in the first teaching, Bishop Richard emphasized the need to always find time for God. “Very often in our priestly life, – said Father Andrii Mykytyuk, Syncellus for Laity of the Eparchy of Melbourne , – we are preoccupied with various challenges, concerns, affairs and forget the most important thing – Christ. Bishop reminded us that we should build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer, through being with Him and inviting Him into our lives.”

In addition, the recluse gave the examples of the Saints as a proof that Christ changes a person if he/she gives Him the opportunity to do so. The Bishop also thanked the fathers for being there. After all, the priest is a special instrument in the hands of God, through which the faithful receive the Holy Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Confession and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

During the practical task, it was suggested to think in more detail about the Sacrament of Confession, in particular, about its meaning. The Bishop recalled and encouraged the understanding of this Sacrament as calling a spade a spade. Bishop argued that when we call things by their names, then we own the situation, because every sin has its name. Jesus did the same when he cast out evil spirits from people, addressing the unclean person clearly by name.

About the second and third day of the retreat, Fr. Ihor Holovko, parish administrator of the church of St. John the Baptist in the city of Perth, says the following: “We entertained the prayer of the Great Entrance, which we read during Hymn of the Cherubim. Each of the fathers, working in groups, shared his own experiences of this prayer. It should be said that this is almost the only prayer in which we reflect over what the Lord has called us to, despite all our weaknesses.”

“On the third day,” Father Ihor continued, “during the practical part, Bishop Richard suggested that we divide into small groups and think about how to better serve the faithful, as well as the experience of God’s grace in service.

Each of our fathers focused his attention on the fact that God’s grace in service is truly a gift that gives the priest, as well as every Christian, the opportunity to meet the Lord in his life, to hear that He speaks to everyone, especially when it is most difficult for us and we understand our unworthiness.”

In their reflections, the fathers focused their attention on the fact that if we give God the opportunity to work in our lives, if we open the door of our soul to Him and invite Him into our heart, if we are overloaded with earthly concerns and because of this we cannot move forward – precisely then the Lord gives us a helping hand, elevates us, fills us, motivates us and helps us to bear good fruit in our lives. The fathers expressed a different vision of fruits in their service, but they had one thing in common: fruits are not only the result of work, but first of all, it is a gift that the Lord gives us to serve people.

At the last meeting, Bishop Richard shared his personal experience of the Bishop’s daily prayer, as the ruling Hierarch, in the time of routine. Therefore, Bishop Mykola Bychok thanked the retreatant for the divinely inspired teachings that contributed to a good spiritual recovery for the clergy of the Eparchy of Melbourne.

Afterwards, everyone together thanked the Lord for the blessed time, asking for the intercession of the Mother of God and all the Saints for help in further service in the vineyard of the Lord.